The final Masters 1000 Series of the year takes place in Bercy, Paris from 1-7 November 2020: Can anyone stop five-time champion Novak Djokovic from making it a sweet six?
Paris Masters 2021 Predictions
The Paris Masters was one of only two Masters 1000 Series events which managed to still take place amid the chaos which the global health crisis wreaked on the tennis schedule, with Daniil Mevdedev defeating Alexander Zverev in the final to claim his third Masters title.
The tournament will retain its place as the final Masters 1000 Series tournament and the arbiter for final qualifications for the Nitto ATP Finals when it takes place from 1-7 November in Bercy, Paris.
Because it comes at the very end of the season, when players are often struggling with injury and fatigue, the Paris Masters has crowned some surprise winners – Robin Soderling in 2010, David Ferrer in 2012 and in recent years, Jack Sock and Karen Khachanov. Nevertheless, Novak Djokovic has amassed five titles and appeared in the final two of the past three years. Will Djokovic, as crushing as he is consistent, make it six Paris Masters titles in 2021? Will we see another surprise winner? Or will Medvedev or Zverev continue to cement their status as the best Masters 1000 Series players outside the Big Three?
Will Medvedev defend his Paris title in 2021?
Russia’s Medvedev won his last ten matches of the 2020 season to claim his third Masters 1000 Series title in Paris and go on to win the ATP Finals. While the last couple of first-time Paris winners – Jack Sock and Karen Khachanov – haven’t exactly kicked on to bigger and better things, and an ATP Finals win is also no guarantee of a continued upwards trajectory, Medvedev was by no means a ‘fluke’ Paris champion. In the past two years, he’s gone 29-8 at Masters 1000 Series level and although he did not have to beat a member of the Big Three to win two of his three Masters 1000 Series titles, he has won three of the last four he’s played against Zverev, two of the last three he’s played against Dominic Thiem and has a 5-1 head-to-head against Stefanos Tsitsipas. These are the types of players he’s going to need to regularly beat to win Masters 1000 Series events.
How Medvedev will fare when it comes to trying to defend his Paris title is less clear. He didn’t have the opportunity to defend his Shanghai title in 2020, and his Cincinnati title defense ended in the quarterfinals, but he made it back to the semifinals of the US Open when defending runner-up points. The Russian is temperamental and much depends on how he is feeling, but he’s shown he is a supremely effective player in conditions like those prevailing in Paris.
Djokovic looks for a sixth Paris crown
Nobody has been as successful in Paris as Djokovic, who has a 37-8 win-loss record at the tournament and has won five titles, at one point compiling a 17-match winning streak. That was eventually snapped by Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals of the 2016 tournament, but since then he’s been in the final of both editions he’s played, so it’s not like he’s been struggling.
The Serb continues to be the most consistent champion at Masters 1000 Series events, winning the last three he played at the time of writing, but players are emerging who can beat him over the best-of-three sets – Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Zverev. Paris is also at the very end of the season, and with Djokovic now 33, wear and tear on the body and fatigue is a very real threat; it’s also not a tournament he’s likely to be particularly motivated to win unless there’s a year-end world no. 1 ranking contest, because he has generally already qualified for the ATP Finals months ago. Should Djokovic play, he will always and rightfully be the favourite to win, but this is a tournament he might increasingly not show up for.
What about Nadal in Paris?
For a long time, the Paris Masters was a tournament you didn’t really expect to see Nadal at – he played only three times between 2010-18 – but Nadal has actually been showing up in recent years, and performing well, making back-to-back semifinals in 2019-20. However, those runs ended in a walkover given to Denis Shapovalov in 2019 and defeat to Zverev in 2020. Nadal is just vulnerable on indoor hard courts in a way he isn’t elsewhere, and between that and the position of the tournament at the end of the season, it’s maybe not that surprising that in all his years playing Paris he has only reached one final.
Zverev, Tsitsipas, Shapovalov lead other contenders
With Roger Federer barely playing the Paris Masters in recent years, Nadal often absent and a bit more vulnerable on indoor hard courts than anywhere else and Djokovic missing the tournament twice in the past four years, it’s not surprising that Paris has probably been the Masters 1000 Series event that has thrown up more surprise/one-time champions and finalists than any other.
What we have seen over the past few years however is the emergence of a cohort of players who are regularly winning Masters 1000 Series titles and reaching finals. Zverev and Medvedev, who contested the Paris Masters final in 2020, have won three Masters 1000 Series titles each and would be top of the list for favourites in 2021. Stefanos Tsitsipas has been knocking on the door for a while, and as a former ATP Finals champion, he can clearly play well on indoor hard courts, but his record in Paris so far is not great; he has never made it past the quarterfinals. Shapovalov reached his solitary Masters final so far in Paris in 2019, and is a good indoors player. His elder compatriot Milos Raonic, though always struggling with some injury issue, is another name to watch out for.
Dominic Thiem is a player not mentioned thus far, but he was a semifinalist in Paris in 2019 and, having twice finished runner-up at the ATP Finals, has clearly shown that he can play indoors.
Paris Masters 2021 tournament information
Name: Paris Rolex Masters
Location: Bercy, Paris, France
Venue: AccorHotels Arena
Category: ATP Masters 1000 Series
Surface: Indoor hard courts
Draw size: 48 singles/24 doubles
Novak Djokovic (5)
Singles – Daniil Medvedev
Doubles – Hubert Hurkacz/Felix Auger-Aliassime
Paris Masters player performance
|Player||Titles||Finals||2020 result||Win-loss record|
|Novak Djokovic||5 (2009, 2013-15, 2019)||1 (2018)||Did not play||37-8|
|Daniil Medvedev||1 (2020)||–||Champion (d. Alexander Zverev)||6-2|
|Karen Khachanov||1 (2018)||–||R64 (Lost to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina)||6-3|
|Jack Sock||1 (2017)||–||Did not play||11-4|
|Andy Murray||1 (2016)||1 (2015)||Did not play||21-9|
|Roger Federer||1 (2011)||–||Did not play||23-11|
|Jo-Wilfried Tsonga||1 (2008)||1 (2011)||Did not play||21-12|
|Gael Monfils||–||2 (2009-10)||Did not play||14-9|
|Alexander Zverev||–||1 (2020)||Runner-up (lost to Daniil Medvedev)||7-4|
|Denis Shapovalov||–||1 (2019)||Did not play||4-3|
|Filip Krajinovic||–||1 (2017)||R64 (lost to Feliciano Lopez)||4-3|
|John Isner||–||1 (2016)||Did not play||17-11|
|Milos Raonic||–||1 (2014)||SF (lost to Daniil Medvedev)||15-5|
|Rafael Nadal||–||1 (2007)||SF (lost to Alexander Zverev)||32-6|